Living aboard

What does it mean to live aboard a sailboat?  Most people just don’t know what to say when I tell them where I live (as a matter of fact I don’t bring it up much in conversation).  When some people find out they say I’m weird or strange or crazy (and not in that fun, friendly way where everyone laughs after).  It’s certainly not for everyone and I would venture to say it’s not for most people.  However, for those of us who dream of doing it there’s no other way to live.

When my Better Half and I were thinking about this life upheaval I scoured the internet looking for all the information I could find.  Maybe this highly personal, highly editorialized list will help someone…

Keep in mind that my list is based on my experience of living on a 37′ boat (that people think is larger than it is when they see the inside…)

Living aboard a sailboat means:

  • cramped space (no matter how big your boat is it’s going to be smaller than you’re used to.)
  • intense dirt (dirt that would normally be spread over your entire living space is confined to about 350 square feet.  There isn’t any more dirt than normal, it’s just concentrated.  Like frozen orange juice in the can.)
  • living without (again, this is my personal list but from talking with other live aboards we all share the common theme of some sort of deprivation.  While I would like a stove, a toilet, a hot water heater, a freezer, and an ice maker all those things are not in the cards right now. Do I miss them? Sure! Can I live without them for the sake of my overall happiness? Absolutely.)
  • storage is a constant consideration (storage is funny.  Our boat is like a stuff-sponge and has been able to hold everything we have brought on.  However, easily accessible storage it truly at a premium.  It brings up the question of what should be in the places that are the easiest to access: things we think we want or things we know we need?  The answer is obvious and makes us wonder why we are going to keep something we think we want in a place that’s hard to get to… This topic deserves it’s own post.)
  • you can’t rearrange the furniture (that’s right, it’s built in.  Choose your boat wisely and make sure you like it or else pay to gut it and put things where you want.  Either way, you’re eventually stuck with it.  Pay attention to your instincts: if there’s something you don’t like at first glance you won’t like it any more after you bash your shin on it for the 17th time.)
  • you move differently (You get used to ducking or scooching or stepping around in your boat after a while.  It’s hard at first and you’ll end up with bruises and a lumpy head but then your muscle memory will take over and those funny movements will become second nature.  You’ll eventually forget to warn visitors about that low-hanging doorway.)
  • the boat moves you (For the first month or so I would sit at work and feel the motion of the boat.  Pretty weird.)
  • other live aboards are a fun and kooky bunch (instant community.  We know more people and have been more social here than we ever have before ever, anywhere.  It’s pretty amazing.)
  • your boat is your floating island of serenity (it truly is. I can’t wait to get home in the evenings and I am loathe to leave in the mornings. I’m never more happy than when I’m aboard.)
  • efficiency (no wasted space.  Everything is deliberate.)
  • small carbon footprint (Excessive consumer consumption is virtually impossible because where are you going to put all your shoppings after a spree?  The bilge?  We could, if we wanted to, make our own electricity.  We could even live by candle light or oil lamp and do away with electricity all together.
  • freedom (our home is connected to the land by a three lines on a floating dock. We can leave whenever the mood strikes us. That type of freedom is priceless and worth any discomfort.)

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